Paul Lambert warns Norwich have a long way to go

PUBLISHED: 12:33 31 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:27 10 September 2010

David Cuffley

City boss Paul Lambert believes his players still have "a country mile to go" to produce their best.

But he was still very happy with the Canaries' 2-0 victory at windswept Hartlepool, making it six points out of six in League One since his arrival as manager less than a fortnight ago.

City boss Paul Lambert believes his players still have “a country mile to go” to produce their best.

But he was still very happy with the Canaries' 2-0 victory at windswept Hartlepool, making it six points out of six in League One since his arrival as manager less than a fortnight ago.

Said Lambert: “I thought we started the game really well and I thought we deserved to win if the truth be known. This is a really tough place to come. I thought the lads were terrific.

“In League One you sometimes have to win the battle before you win anything and today I thought they were great.”

After witnessing City's 7-1 defeat by Colchester on the opening day, when Lambert was in the opposite camp, sorting out his defence was always likely to be a priority.

But he said: “It's not just the defence, it's the whole team we have had to work on. We thought they played really open when we were at Colchester and we just came in and gave them a little bit of stability.

“There is still a country mile to go before the lads are where you want them, but the response we have had has been brilliant.

“Considering they have not played, that's the thing - they haven't played many games, a lot of the lads, and they are still playing catch-up with their fitness. So all we can do is keep them as vibrant as we can and get them through it and hopefully a few months down the line the fitness levels will be where I think they should be.”

After giving defender Michael Nelson his first outing since the Colchester debacle, Lambert was delighted with his performance - and his first-half goal.

“I thought Michael was great. The goal was brilliant - and to come back to your old stamping ground - but I thought his general defensive display was excellent, which is why he's there. But his goal was a bonus,” he said.

Lambert felt City should have had a penalty for what he described as a “neck high” challenge on Korey Smith in the first half, and praised goalkeeper Fraser Forster for a solid debut, including one smart save from Antony Sweeney, after fellow loan 'keeper Ben Alnwick - who suffered a badly gashed face in the Carling Cup defeat by Sunderland - failed a fitness test requested by Tottenham. “I thought his reaction for the save was great and he will do great for us,” said Lambert of Forster. “With the testing Ben had to do there was a slight doubt regarding his reaction to it and we can't afford to take risks with lads that are not really our players.”

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